I’m quite fond of allegories or retellings. When you think about it, some of the best films are retellings of older, classical stories: The Crucible, for instance, is about the Salem witch trials, but can be read as an allegory for American politics during the McCarthy era. Jaws is a retelling of Moby Dick. The Lion King is essentially a retelling of Hamlet. West Side Story is a retelling of Romeo And Juliet. There was a program about West Side Story on tv last night, which made me muse about how adapting a story can add something to the original, and also how reframing real events can shed new light on them. That got me thinking, could something similar be done with Trump? He is, after all, almost cinematic or theatrical – even Shakespearian – in his pomposity. If so, what existing narrative could be reused?
The first thing which came to mind was Macbeth. There we see a man whose vaulting ambition drives him to commit greater and greater evils. Yet Macbeth doesn’t quite fit: Macbeth was spurred on by his wife, whereas Trump is driven by his own self-importance; and, as I was just reminded on Facebook, Macbeth starts the play as a good guy, whereas Trump has always been evil.
Another candidate could be Richard III, about a hunchback whose ambition drives him to murder his brother to become king, although I’d be wary of it’s ablest overtones. Yet you can see what I’m getting at, I think: I wonder if there is a classical narrative which could be adapted to describe this pompous, self-important embarrassment to human civilisation, whose deluded opinion of himself goes so deep that he denies reality itself. Is there such a narrative, or is Trump so depraved that not even our greatest writers would dare to create a character that hideous?